Rafine Espresso Bar – a little gem in Istanbul

Rafine Espresso BarRafine Espresso Bar

My affair with Istanbul was love at first sight and I cherish every opportunity I get to explore the city and discover not only more about its history but also little gems hidden away or in plain sight. This time, the suggestion came from a friend who heard of my hunt for nice spots to enjoy a cup of good coffee and directed us to Rafine Espresso bar, located right in between the lively neighborhoods of Kadikoy and Moda.

With an address and a smartphone in tow, we set off to check  Rafine Espresso bar out and learn more about the 3rd scene in Istanbul.

Rafine espresso bar

The walk from the Kadikoy station to our destination, took us through the lively streets of this district where tourists but mainly locals were enjoying a sunny Saturday afternoon. Leisurely, we checked out a few cafes and I have to say, the new face of coffee houses is ever so present and evolving there, however maybe a few of these cafes are trying a tiny bit too hard to fit the criteria when it comes to looks, which to me, appeared somewhat plastic and unoriginal, but they are certainly on track and eventually will find their niche.

The crowd in these new independent cafes are the typical millennials, all fashionably dressed and equipped with the necessary apparatus to be always wired and connected. The specialty coffee approach, however seems not to be yet there. Most places are investing on the looks and neglecting the star of the show.

Rafine Espresso Bar is such a small place that hadn’t we been specifically looking for it we would have easily missed it. We ordered our espressos – you will soon notice, if you stick around long enough, that espressos and black brews, are how we indulge in our coffee passion or addiction- and took a seat outside to enjoy a bit of sunshine.

First, we tried an espresso made from Tanzania beans roasted in house and then went on to try the same beverage but now made with a Brazilian/Colombian blend. So here is the thing, as it was well put by the barista on duty, drinking coffee is like supporting a football team. So I have to say that my taste buds were not so fond of either espressos, especially the one made with the Tanzania beans, the acidity was very high and did not allow for a smooth experience. The Brazilian blend was much nicer and coffee connoisseurs might cringe but to me nobody makes espresso as perfectly as the Italian.

Espresso at Rafine

Although we were a little disappointed with our espressos, the quality of the beans was undeniable. Rafine is fully on board of the 3rd wave. We found a table inside and after a chat with Gokhan who explained among other things, that the cold brew was made out of the Tanzania beans, we decided to give it another try. That was the highlight of our experience, such a refreshing and smooth drink, very well balanced and the acidity in this case complimented perfectly the warm and breezy weather.


We lingered a little longer in Rafine only because the place is so beautifully decorated and with such great quality coffee but also because we engaged in a very interesting conversation with Gokhan that time just flew by and we didn’t even notice it. He told us a little about Rafine’s history, one of the pioneers in the area, owned by a guy who worked with the famous chef in the UK and bakes the cakes sold at the cafe.

Cake at Rafine Espresso Bar

A point that had been made by the friend who suggested this cafe and we are pleased to confirm is that Gokhan is passionate about his job and even though he knows the ins and outs of coffee, he is,refreshingly, anything but a coffee snob.

After so much caffeine, we were a little “coffeed-up” so we paid our bill – which was worth every cent – and set off to find a Mother’s day present, nothing like a bit of last minute panic shopping.



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